My 6 year old son, who has quite long hair, has developed the habit of twisting it in a sort of absent minded but nervy way to the point where it has thinned considerably in one spot. Most of the time he doesn't seem to realise he is doing it and until I noticed the 'balding' patch I haven't been unduly worried.
Interestingly this habit seems to have replaced one where he bit his t-shirt quite a lot for a time resulting in a wet neckline, also annoying but I ignored that one and it stopped. Has anyone else dealt with the hair twisting or other compulsive habits and what did you do about it/them?
By the way we could cut his hair very short but he specifically has asked to grow it long and I generally support his personal choices about his own appearance. Also I wonder if he would just develop a new habit.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.
Hi Betty I note noone has answered your question so thought I would put in my two cents worth. My thoughts are either: it is absentminded activity that helps him think and therefore replacing it with something else he can hold and manipulate e.g., a stress ball when he is thinking, may be helpful. Or it might be a sign of anxiety in which case helping him overcome the anxiety maybe with counselling or psychology would be helpful.
My daughter was very fidgetty in stressful situations - we tried putting a smooth "magic" stone in her pocket so she could always have something to touch and fiddle with. She also likes to chew pens while working/thinking which drives me crazy but I remember from my childhood I chewed all my pencils down to stubs so I can't complain too much :-). Find something with his help that he can always have in his pocket to keep his hands busy (yes, it is just developing a new habit but one he has chosen). Good luck
My oldest (17) and also my husband do this sort of thing (Daughter chews clothes and pulls out hair, Husband picks at skin compulsively). It's basically an OCD/anxiety thing. I agree that one habit seems to replace another - if the clothes chewing lessens the hair pulling increases. To the point of large bald patches :-(
It's a genetic thing apparently. There's lots about it on the net, but no real solutions (unless you want to try medication but even then it doesn't always work. Some people try hypnotherapy but they won't). The idea of a smooth rock to fiddle worth is a good one though.
A comment in a report by a General and Developmental Paediatrician written for our daughter when we had her head banging checked out stated that repetitive mannerisms are much more common in people with high intellectual ability - so it looks like they go with the territory.
In this family we have had the afore mentioned head banging, hair twirling, skin picking, hand shaking, foot shaking, finger clicking, nose twitching, finger nail picking and lots and lots of just general fidgeting.
The one that seems to have really 'stuck' with me is scratching my face - not hard but repetitive enough to not be good for my skin and I do it much more when studying or tired
I also scratch my teeth, oddly enough :)
I used to such my tops as a kid, pull at hems etc .... and Im sure much more besides - my kids were very tactile that way as well. One of the most brilliant ones my daughter came up with was sucking a pacifier in class (unfortunately the school decided it warranted HOURS of time with the school counsellor instead of just leaving her to it)